Alicia Keys & The “Natural” Beauty Controversy

Alicia Keys Natural Beauty

Alicia Keys and The Natural Beauty Double Standard

Recently, Alicia Keys made the brave decision to stop wearing makeup entirely, an effort to focus on her natural beauty.  The songstress has reportedly cut out makeup from her daily life as well as in her photo-shoots and performances. This change was first noticed in the cover art for her newest single “In Common”.  Since then Keys has taken a stand against perfection on Instagram stating, “Been working on listening to myself and stop fulfilling other people’s idea of “perfect. I’m not covering up anymore and I’m feeling my best yet!””

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Keys’ decision to embrace her natural beauty was quickly praised by her fan base. She’s received the approval of many people and has even gotten the chance to express this idea on multiple platforms such as Lenny and Vanity Fair. In theory, this new movement is incredibly empowering for women; however there are clear misconceptions behind what makes ‘natural beauty’ beautiful.
Alicia Keys is not the first artist to publicly share what they look like fresh faced. For example, another fellow artist, Lil’ Mama shared her own fresh-faced photo online, which received extraordinarily different reviews. Her picture was highly ridiculed on twitter as she was compared to the character Calvin Cambridge from the movie Lil Mike and hero girl from The Polar Express. The singer got a similar reaction back in 2012 when she posted a picture of her natural hair captioned “no makeup, no weave… Fro Flow, Just me.” Both instances resulted in the artists being teased and called hateful names via social media, whereas Alicia Keys primarily received praise.



The question at hand is why do we believe one star’s natural state to be better than the other’s? Why is it that natural beauty apparently has strict guidelines it must follow to be considered beautiful? Maybe the issue isn’t about makeup or appearances at all, but rather societies inability to recognize the beauty in everyone.
With that said, there seems to be a representation of colorism in the different reactions to each photograph. Alicia keys has more European features with her fair skin tone and loose curly hair, whereas Lil’ Mama has more distinctly African features in her darker skin tone and coarse hair texture. The differences between these two women are what makes them distinctively beautiful, yet the comment sections of both post’s declared otherwise. This is yet another example of society restricting love and equality even within the same race. If we are not able to look past the stereotypes and stigmas associated with our own appearance, then the prospect of acceptance is impossible.